It’s no secret that Disney is stubbornly intent on turning every one of their theme park attractions into a major motion picture; from the Pirates of the Caribbean series, to the recent Jungle Cruise, to the waking Lynchian nightmare that is The Country Bears.

Now Disney is reportedly making a movie based on their Big Thunder Mountain ride, and have hired the directing team of Bert & Bertie, who previously worked on Hawkeye, to helm the project – presumably because they have some experience creating an exciting story out of a subject that no one really cares about and is well past its prime.

You might wonder how they could fashion a movie out of a ride that’s basically just an Old West-themed roller coaster, with no pirates, ghosts or dead-eyed animatronic singing bears to speak of. Well, it turns out that there is a narrative at the center of the ride and it’s … creepy as hell. 

Apparently, the premise of the Frontierland coaster involves an angry Indigenous spirit protector who, like the mountain itself, is named “Big Thunder” – and who has punished the Western settlers of the gold mining town of Tumbleweed for their “desecration of the mountain.”  The idea is that Big Thunder destroyed the mines “causing the residents to flee” (hence the deserted town you pass through at the end) and now, apparently, the mine is haunted, with the trains that you (and likely your entire family) are riding are mysteriously “possessed.” Yeah, pretty messed up for an activity that may have preceded sitting in a giant twirling pink teacup.

It somehow gets even grimmer; according to one account of the backstory, Big Thunder was extra-pissed at the miners for holding poker games and celebrating with “parlor girls” at the sacred site, which is also an Indigenous “Burial Ground.” Yup, this ride is secretly about colonization, genoicde and vengeful paranormal entities. Which seems like a pretty messed up, potentially wildly insensitive, starting point for a family blockbuster, unless it’s a kid-friendly remake of The Shining

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Thumbnail: Wikimedia Commons/Harsh Light/deror_avi

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